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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Assassin's Creed III Review

Assassin's Creed III is definitely one of the most anticipated games of the year, and sometimes it proves difficult to live up to that hype. While Brotherhood and Revelations were good games, they didn't really possess that Wow Factor and felt more like expansions for Assassin's Creed II than anything. Assassin's Creed III has been in development for about 2 and a half years, and it definitely shows. This game is amazing.

Instead of focusing on Italy in the 15th and 16th century, Assassin's Creed III gets revolutionary, and leads us to the American Revolution. The past portion of the game follows a new assassin, Connor, as the world around him crumbles as he is part Native American during the revolution. You will passively take part in many of the most famous events in American history such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and more. Connor honestly really never takes sides in the revolution, but definitely kills more Redcoats than Patriots. His main goal is freedom, and takes the oath of an assassin to provide this to everyone, including his tribe. Throughout the game, you not only play as Connor, but another character introduced in this game. As to not spoil anything, he will remain unnamed, but there are many twists and turns revolving around his character. As always with the Assassin's Creed games as well, you play as Desmond trying to prevent the end of the world and fighting the Templars affiliated with Abstergo. There is a decent mix of past and present play and a great variety in the missions that keeps the action fluid with a great story. The references to actual events in history are amazing, and really enjoyable since its much easier to relate to the American Revolution than Italian Renaissance.

The gameplay mechanics in general have been completely reworked, going along with the all new engine running the game, Anvil 2. What this engine allows Ubisoft to do is astounding. Over 1000 NPCs can be rendered and appear onscreen at the same time. This makes Boston and New York, the two major cities that you'll play through, appear the most lively and realistic in any open world game yet. Random events happen left and right, someone drops a box of oranges and a thief runs over to steal them, Redcoats patrol the streets looking for people disobeying the crown. To go along with that new engine, all of Connor's animations have been redone, and even the controls changed a bit to make the gameplay more fluid. Instead of having a dedicated jump button, to freerun, you just hold one button, making it less likely for you to jump at the wrong time or in the wrong direction. Picking up weapons is more fluid, and leads to some of the best looking kills and most fluid chain kills ever. Speaking of kills, Connor employs many different weapons throughout the game, with his most defining and useful being the Tomahawk. It proves to be rather effective at taking down Redcoats with their muskets in hand. One would wonder how an assassin would take out people using guns though, which the game doesn't really struggle with as it allows you to use a human shield of sorts, grabbing a guy to take the shots for you.

Aside from the story missions in Assassin's Creed 3, there's a multitude of side quests to do. Along with the cities of Boston and New York, you have the homestead, which serves as your home area (think Monteriggioni), and the Frontier. The map of the frontier is around 1.5 times the size of all of Brotherhood. As with all Assassin's Creed games, you have things to find and side quests to go on, but with this game, you're able to hunt. This ends up being a fun mechanic, but also very useful as well, allowing you to sell whatever goods can be taken from the animal, but don't forget to skin every animal that you kill, or else the game gets mad! There are liberation missions which free the area from Templar control, and there are Forts to retake from British control as well. The amount of stuff to do once finishing, or to get away from the story, is amazing. There are even naval battles that you can take part in, which pit you as the commander of your own ship, allowing you to sail whenever you want! And while you're playing through all of this extra stuff, its amazing to just stop for a second and admire the beautiful attention to detail that the game possesses. Graphically, this is by far the best looking Assassin's Creed game yet, and really shows what consoles are capable of.

Overall, the hype for this game was well worth it. Take the Assassin's Creed formula, ramp it up by 10x, and add a huge map to explore along with a lot to do and you're going to have a chance at game of the year. The Assassin's Creed games have always had a warm place in my heart, but with the "last" entry into this "trilogy," the series has cemented its place as one of my favorites of all time.

Story - 10
The game revolves around the American Revolution... 'nuff said.
Gameplay - 9.5
The missions are varied, and the controls make for a much more fluid game. Minor glitches.
Graphics – 9.5
The game looks beautiful and the new engine provides an extremely lifelike city experience.
Sound – 9.5
Utilizing actual Native American voice actors adds that extra bit of realism.
Replayability - 10
The game provides numerous hours of extra gameplay, and challenges you to sync 100%.

Overall - 9.5

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mini Reviews!

So, since it's been a while since I posted, I didn't want to inundate the site with old reviews posted two months after they came out. There's a bunch of games to cover here, ranging from Vita to PS3 to PSN so bear with me. Let's go in order of release date, shall we?


Starhawk, the spiritual successor to the old franchise Warhawk, follows Emmett Graves on his more or less path to redemption. The focus of this very Firefly like universe is Rift energy. It's a precious commodity, and there are many people seeking it. Outcasts are your greatest threat in the game, and lead to some awesome battles. This game combines third-person shooting with vehicular combat and even adds a bit of real time strategy. All of this comes together to make a pretty cool game. The story itself really serves as more of an elongated tutorial for the multiplayer, where the game really shines. Having up to 32 players each building different structures as needed and killing whoever crosses them really provides a fun experience. The game isn't necessarily as polished as a triple-A shooter, but it definitely makes its mark on the gaming sphere, and really should have gotten more attention.

Overall Rating 8.5/10

Max Payne 3

Max Payne 3 honestly kind of surprised me. I wasn't ever planning on getting the game, definitely not on the day it released. I'm a sucker like that sometimes though, but most of the time it ends up paying off. Now, I didn't venture into the multiplayer of the game, so this is merely a single-player review. The story follows a very washed up and given up Max. Through a choice that he didn't really care to make, he ends up doing security work for a family in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Things go very wrong in Brazil and many twists and turns provide a great story from start to finish. This location provides a very different landscape for gaming that we don't see too often. Quite honestly, Max Payne 3 is one of the best looking games I've ever played. Graphically it outperforms nearly everything I've seen before. The attention to detail and animations are just outstanding. Gameplay missions are pretty varied, but the game suffers from some extremely frustrating difficulty spikes along the way. Some missions have really extended checkpoints, or just plain too many enemies and not enough ammo. The game remedies this by providing more health or ammo upon dying multiple times, but sometimes this just isn't enough. Other than those difficulty spikes though, the game has great replay value in harder levels, and New York Minute mode which gives you time for kills and its a race against the clock. Multiplayer also adds on to the replay value, which is reported to be rather exhilarating. 

Overall Rating: 8.5/10 
Resistance: Burning Skies

So, Resistance Burning Skies came out May 29th for Playstation Vita. This entry in the Resistance series wasn't developed by Insomniac directly, but rather outsourced to Nihilistic. The game follows Tom Reily, a firefighter on the East coast of America when the Chimera begin to invade. He becomes separated from his wife and child and so your main objective is to be reunited with them. While it doesn't necessarily compare to the console versions in every way, the Vita version really proves that this handheld can be very powerful. The graphics aren't an extremely strong factor in the game, but they're not weak compared to other Vita games. The gameplay itself has varied mission structure, but would probably have benefited from being a little longer. Some of the animation for the cutscenes was downright terrible, but its not really as much about that as proving the Vita can handle one of the more successful and popular genres right now - First-Person Shooters. While it definitely isn't a perfect game, Burning Skies is a good one for people in love with the Resistance franchise or FPS games. Also, the game has a relatively easy trophy list and online support as well. 

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes

Lego Batman 2 adds something unprecedented to Lego games, voices! They actually recorded dialogue for all of the characters involved in Lego Batman 2 and it definitely gives the game a different quality. It retains its witty humor while actually adding a coherent story to the game. Since this game isn't based on a pre-written story, its sometimes hard to follow exactly what's happening in the story. Since this entry adds voice acting though, it makes much more sense. Aside from voice acting, the game adds many other things. Rather than restricting itself to the Batman universe, it dives into the whole DC universe, including Superman, Aquaman, Green Lantern and many many more. Each of the superheroes have something unique about them, whether its flying or running super fast like the Flash, its always fun to try out a newly unlocked character. Where better to try these characters out than in an open world right? Well, you won't be disappointed in Lego Batman 2's. It's the entire city of Gotham, and there's a lot to do. Many collectibles are hidden throughout the city, and mini boss battles unlock that character to play as. There are 15 story missions, and the story itself is pretty good and very humorous. This game improves upon the first in so many ways.

Overall Rating: 9/10 

The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man game follows the movie almost right after it ends. Since the game came out a week before the movie, it kind of ruined a few things for those that care about spoilers. Otherwise, the story for the game seems like a standard Spider-Man game. Some crazy villain wants to infect everyone with a virus, and starts making clones and robots. The formula seems to work well, so why change it too much? The game itself really doesn't last very long, with only about 15 hours of content available between the story and all the side missions. Otherwise though, the game was incredibly fun. The combat style is much more refined, and feels a lot like Arkham Asylum, with the counters and button mashing, albeit a bit more fluid and acrobatic. Graphically, the game looks decent, with a lot of detail for the characters, but little for the city itself. The game switches things up frequently though, going to indoor locations and back outside so that nothing becomes monotonous. The skill tree adds fun new powers to Spider-Man, and provides something to aim for. The game itself has a great overall feeling to it, but just suffers from being too short.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Sound Shapes

Sound Shapes is an interesting little platforming game. As you collect the little orbs in the game, these translate to notes in the song that is playing in the background. Each and every level revolves around a different song or beat. As you collect the notes, you create the song. Its not a very tough game by any means, but provides something different from other games nowadays that don't focus enough on the creation of music or the importance of a good soundtrack. It came out for both Vita and PS3 on the Playstation Network and only costs $14.99. It's not a very long game, lasting only about 4 hours total. The experience though was rather fun, and once you beat the game you unlock two extra modes. These are where the trophies lie for the game, Death Mode and Beat School. Beat School has you replicate a certain beat with the games level creator, while Death Mode forces you to beat some extremely hard challenges in a certain amount of time. Each level you beat though gives you a trophy. The game has good replay value as well, with a bunch of levels being created by users like you and uploaded so everyone can play them.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Welcome Back!

Right. It's been far too long since I've posted on here. Many games have come out since I have, I've been to E3 and not posted too much about my experiences there, and I've generally missed a lot of news. Well, I'm glad to say I'm back for the fall season. Much has changed since my last post. I'm actually now the store manager of a Gamestop in Belvidere, Illinois. I'm enjoying running the store, and hope to get Inverted Gaming going over there as well. It ended with pretty good success over at the Machesney Park location, so I'm hopeful to see what people think in Belvidere.

Also, since I last posted, I've moved out on my own! Well, sort of at least. I'm currently living with my brother and his wife and my lovely girlfriend Britney. It's been rather enjoyable the last month, but as you can see, I've been pretty busy moving and working. I've played many games, and plan on doing a couple mini reviews and a few longer reviews.

Over the summer I played Lego Batman 2, The Amazing Spider-Man, Sleeping Dogs and Madden 13. Look for a few of these reviews rather soon.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Behind the Scenes on the Walking Dead: Episode 2

While at E3, I got a behind the scenes look at the next episode in the Walking Dead video game. The preview was 20 minutes of the next episode, which takes place 3 months after the first. During this preview, I learned a lot more about the game itself, what's to come, and that this game is something to look forward to. The next episode was currently submitted to Microsoft and Sony when I talked to Telltale Games, which was on June 5th. From there, they said its out of their hands on when it gets released, but they were hoping the end of June. Since we only have one week left in June and no word on a release date yet, we should probably see an early July release for the next episode. Read on for a more detailed preview of an awesome and underrated game!


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